Despite blizzard, 3 mayoral hopefuls hold forum

February 2, 2011 8:56:41 PM PST
The blizzard didn't stop three candidates in the mayor's race from coming to a Union League Club forum Wednesday.

It takes more than a superstorm to cancel Chicago politics and politicians. After sponsoring mayoral forums for the past 132 years, the Union League Club was not about to back down from a blizzard.

"We decided to go for it, and let the chips fall where they may," said Dave Kohn, Union League Club.

Only two dozen or so hearty club members watched as windblown flakes swirled in the window behind the stage. And a few in the audience wondered: Why did these three candidates of the four invited think it was so important to brave the elements?

"The short answer to the question why are we here is we're Chicagoans and we're tough," said Carol Moseley Braun, candidate for mayor. "We don't let a little weather get in the way of our appointed rounds and our duty."

"I had committed to come here. When I say I'm gonna do it, I do it," said candidate Gery Chico.

"I think it says something about the three of us, and it says a lot about the individual that did not participate," said candidate Miguel Del Valle.

Rahm Emanuel did not participate. He has avoided all such forums. His campaign website provided still photos of the former congressman apparently shoveling snow and helping push a police car.

Chico did one better. His campaign called news crews to a North Side neighborhood where the candidate helped people clear sidewalks and dig out cars.

"We're Chicagoans, I mean we're supposed to cope with this," Chico said. "If we can't do it, how do we expect other people to do it?"

At the Union League debate, the first question concerned Lake Shore Drive and how the candidates would have ordered things done differently.

"I think some planning, particularly with regard to Lake Shore Drive, the major arteries...a little more foresight would have been called for," said Braun.

"I don't think the timing was good. And I don't think the response time was good. So we'll have to get into it and dig into it and find out what really was planned for and how we dealt with it," said Chico.

"Let's do an assessment and let's see what exactly the response on the part of the city," said del Valle.

Emanuel issued a statement on Lake Shore Drive. He called for a review of city actions, adding, "There were mistakes made that we can never let happen again."

You'll hear much more from the candidates when they debate live on ABC7, Thursday, February 17. That's at 7 p.m. The debate will also be streamed live on this website.